Winter is a dreary season throughout most of the US – but not in Boise! There are so many indoor and outdoor opportunities to make the most of Boise, Idaho, winters! Although Boise doesn’t get a ton of snow, it’s surrounded by beautiful snow-capped foothills and mountains pretty consistently from November to February.
So if snow sports are your thing, they’re just a short drive away. If the idea of snow sounds like too much work (i.e., shoveling your car out), you can still get to enjoy the winter sights, sounds, and feelings right from the comfort of downtown!
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12 Things to Do in Boise Idaho Winter
1. Go see Christmas Lights
I love the Idaho Botanical Garden all year round, but the winter season offers a unique family-friendly event that transforms the garden into a wonderland. Over 550,000 energy-efficient lights are hung across the garden’s 14 acres yearly. Bundle up, grab some hot chocolate at one of the food trucks, and wander around with your partner, kids, and/or friends! Go during the winter solstice for extra brightness and magic on the year’s darkest day. Book your tickets to Winter Garden aGlow.
I’m also a big fan of free-light viewing and love going to the Christmas tree at the Idaho Capitol Building, the Grove Plaza, and The Village in Meridian! I also like checking out the Scentsy Common Light Stroll and Caldwell’s Winter Wonderland at Indian Creek Plaza.
Other fun light experiences are Christmas in Color, where you can see the lights from your car, or Lost in Christmas at Shindig Farms.
2. Go skiing or tubing at the local ski hill, Bogus Basin
Bogus Basin is a serious winter weekend destination for Boisians, and for good reason! The ski hill offers locals excellent downhill and cross-country skiing only 16 miles away. It’s so accessible that many people also go after work on weekdays and enjoy night skiing on well-lit trails (both Nordic and Alpine!). If you or family members don’t ski, why not try tubing instead? With a convenient conveyor-lift back to the top of the hill, you’ll have the energy to go all day.
3. Catch a classic holiday flick at the famous Egyptian Theatre
It just wouldn’t feel like the holidays without Love, Actually. What’s even better than watching the movie at home is at Boise’s most incredible historical theatre. Cheer for your favorites (Hugh Grant, “Natalie,” and Colin Firth), and boo for the bad guys alongside your fellow Boisians! You can also order drinks downstairs and bring them to your seat to enjoy the movie with an adult beverage.
4. Go to an Idaho Steelheads Hockey Game
This is one of my favorite things to do in the winter! Plus, in December you can see the lights on the Christmas tree at the Grove Plaza on your way into the game! On Wednesday nights they have $2 beers and they have games on most Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights! The season goes all the way until April! Grab your tickets here.
5. Go to Edwards Greenhouse for wintery decor, houseplants, and yoga
If I could live anywhere, it would be inside Edwards Greenhouse. Seriously, it’s warm and tropical with the most amazing floral smells, even in the dead of winter. At the end of January/beginning of February, the entire giant greenhouse is filled with an intoxicating fragrance as the indoor jasmine vines burst into bloom. The greenhouse also offers yoga classes, house plants galore, and the most beautiful winter decor that you never knew you needed.
6. Get a festive cocktail or taste some winter brews
Check out Press & Pony or Water Bear Bar for a festive drink. Both of these cocktail bars are typically decked out for the holidays. Check out some of the best craft breweries in town, like Western Collective, Payette Brewing, and Barbarian Brewing. Western Collective usually goes all out in decor for the holidays as well.
7. Go ice skating at Idaho Ice-World
Hit the ice and go freestyle ice skating or play pickup hockey! You can buy your tickets online.
8. Sledding in Camel’s Back Park
Just minutes from downtown Boise, Camel’s Back Park offers more than just hiking and running trails. The trees are fastened with hay bales at the start of winter in preparation for the sledding season. Grab your sleds, kids, and dogs, and stop by Hyde Park for coffee on your way to the hills!
Hiking in the winter is so underrated! Obviously, it’s not a good idea to hike where it’s muddy or super icy, but snowshoeing through soft powder is such a good workout. Not to mention the fact that winter landscapes are some of the most stunning scenes on the planet. Hiking where the snow is tightly packed or traversing on snowshoes may be the best way to take in the season’s beauty. Plus, you hardly ever get gross and sweaty the way you would during any other time of the year. You can find a lot of great trails near Bogus Basin and in the Boise foothills.
10. Take a photography workshop at Cole/Marr and practice out in the winter landscape
Although the days are shorter in winter, there is still plenty of time after work for continued learning. Whether you are a beginner or advanced photographer, these workshops will give you the confidence to brush the dust off that old Nikon and start capturing the beauty of the snowy scenery around you.
11. Go to Holiday High Tea
If you want to get in the festive mood for the holidays, go to a fun holiday high tea! Capitol Cellars, The Lively, and Chateau des Fleurs have them throughout the season!
12. Take a cooking class
This is such a fun activity to do in the wintertime for date night or getting together with family and friends. I recommend going to Season + Taste Boise Cooking School for some great winter-themed options! Book your class here.
Other Activities Near Boise
There are many places close to Boise where you can rent snowmobiles and spend the day zipping around the backcountry. For an extra-special adventure, take a trip up to McCall and ride snowmobiles to Burgdorf Hot Springs! It’s the only way to access this remote retreat during winter.
Go on a sleigh ride
To really get into the holiday spirit, take a short trip to either Garden Valley, Donnelly, or Sun Valley for a scenic horse-drawn sleigh ride. You can even arrange to have dinner waiting for you at a cabin. Your kids will thank you for making their fairytale dreams come true!
Visit the Idaho City Hot Springs
The Springs at Idaho City are conveniently located only an hour outside of Boise, and the proximity along with all of its amenities have made it a popular winter weekend destination. You can spend the whole day just soaking, drinking, eating, and lounging. There are also showers, towels, lockers, and a sauna in addition to a hot spring pool and extra-warm hot tub. Recently, though, I have felt that it gets a bit too crowded on the weekends, so I prefer to go after work on a weekday to really unwind and relax.
Make a trip up to McCall for skiing or visit the McCall Winter Carnival
McCall is a quaint lakeside town with an annual Winter Carnival featuring parades, live music, and mind-blowing snow sculptures! The town also boasts plenty of outdoor activities – visit Brundage Mountain or Tamarack Resort for epic skiing and snowboarding.
Boise Idaho Winter Related Post: A Weekend Guide to the McCall Winter Carnival
Where to Stay During Boise Idaho Winter:
I highly recommend staying in downtown Boise or in the North End so you’re close to downtown.
Here are my top 10 favorite Airbnb’s to rent in Boise and most are in downtown or super close!
The Grove Hotel – The Grove is right in the center of downtown and has great rooms and a beautiful lobby. See current prices.
The Modern Hotel – This is an old motel that’s been converted into a hip modern hotel. I love their cocktails and brunch! See current prices.
Inn at 500 Capitol – This is a super unique hotel and is dog-friendly! Each room has a different unique theme. See current prices.
Hotel 43 – Another new and nice hotel with a fabulous location. See current prices.
Residence Inn by Marriott – I love the location of this hotel. It my be my favorite location of all of the hotels because of it’s location to BoDo. See current prices.
I hope these tips for having fun during a Boise Idaho winter have helped you and that you have a blast with these activities! Let me know in the comments if there’s anything more to add and be sure to check out these related posts for more winter tips in Idaho!
Winter in Boise: 22 Things To Keep You Busy All Season
The 20+ Best Things To Do In Idaho in the Winter
What to Wear in Idaho in All Seasons
The 10 Best Winter Activities in Sun Valley Idaho
The Best Winter Boots for Women
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